Review: Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska


In a striking debut novel, a single father and his son discover what lies beneath the gilded façade of a tony Upper East Side private school: an endemic of over-medicated children.

Every afternoon Sean Benning picks up his son, Toby, on the marble steps that lead into the prestigious Bradley School. Everything at Bradley is accelerated—3rd graders read at the 6th grade level, they have labs and facilities to rival most universities, and the chess champions are the bullies. A single dad and struggling artist, Sean sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the power-soccer-mom cliques and ladies-who-lunch that congregate on the steps every afternoon. But at least Toby is thriving and getting the best education money can buy. Or is he?
When Sean starts getting pressure from the school to put Toby on medication for ADD, something smells fishy, and it isn’t the caviar that was served at last week’s PTA meeting. Toby’s “issues” in school seem, to Sean, to be nothing more than normal behavior for an eight-year-old boy. But maybe Sean just isn’t seeing things clearly, which has been harder and harder to do since Toby’s new teacher, Jess, started at Bradley. And the school has Toby’s best interests at heart, right? But what happens when the pressure to not just keep up, but to exceed, takes hold? When things take a tragic turn, Sean realizes that the price of this accelerated life is higher than he could have ever imagined.
My Review:
Let me be the first to admit-the book cover does not do the book justice! It is a little bland looking and doesn’t scream, “read me!”. I’ve had this book on my review list and I wasn’t rushing to read it because it just wasn’t enticing.  Well, this is one of those books that holds the saying true, “don’t just a book by it’s cover”.
This book covers so many issues that are relevant to today’s times with families and children.  Once I started reading the book, I couldn’t stop. It was fast paced and asks parents the question, “is this really in the best interest of my child?”.  Sean is a single dad and helps Toby adjust to the fact that his mom just leaves them one day.  Trying to bring some normalcy to the home, Sean works two jobs while being as present a father he can be.  However, he is faced with the issue of being told by the school psychologist that Toby is exhibiting ADD tendencies.  With secrets that go far beyond the walls of the Bradley School, Sean is thrust into a situation that can mean life/death for his son Toby.  Uncovering these secrets can bring problems for Toby and Sean, and Sean has to decide what is truly best for his son.  In addition to all of that, Sean is also having to deal with the issues of being a single parent, helping his son adjust to an absent mother, and help his son deal with the loss of a friend.
The book raises issues surrounding the generation of overmedicated children, over diagnosed children, and  wanting our children to be successful.  The rat race of finding the best schools, having our children in the best programs, setting them up for the best colleges….all of that can get overwhelming and very competitive…which this book addresses and the downside of what can happen.  It’s a book that I wish I could have other parents read, simply because our children are so stressed and pressured to succeed that parents can lose out on precious bonding moments with their children.
The author does a remarkable job of covering so many real life issues in a compact book. Overall, this is an excellent read and I have added this to my favorites list!
5 plus more*This book was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation was given.